We took a road trip to Wheaton, Illinois, my home town, this past weekend. “We” consisted of our youngest daughter, her four sons aged 3, twins aged 21 months, baby aged 5 months, and myself. We left Dillsboro, North Carolina at 12:00 noon on Thursday and arrived in Danville, Kentucky at 4:30 pm. We spent the night there with our daughter’s friends and drove the rest of the way Friday arriving in Wheaton at my brother and sister-in-law’s (30 miles west of Chicago) at 3:00 pm. We then attended a soccer match at Wheaton College at 4:30. If your head is spinning, so was mine!
The purpose of the road trip was the 25 Year Celebration of the Women’s Soccer program and all former players were invited. Saturday also included events celebrating the soccer program’s anniversary. We visited with family Saturday evening and Sunday, and then left to drive back to North Carolina on Monday morning. This part of the trip was a 12 hour drive, including three stops for meals and stretching legs, and an extra stop for gas.
Right now several of you are thinking…”Is she CRAZY?!!!! Admit it – you think we were out of our minds to travel over 1200 miles with four little boys in just a long weekend. The facts are that the trip went extremely well. The boys were well-behaved and there was only one time each day when they started fussing, right before supper. (that often happens when they are at home – the “whine-while-mom-fixes-supper” hour)
Looking back on my childhood, I have several fond memories of road trips. In fact, my brother and I reminisced about several of these last weekend. We traveled to Yellowstone National Park in 1958 in a sedan with a small hole in the rear floor board. We enjoyed dropping things through the hole and then watch out the back window as those things bounced around on the pavement. We looked for letters of the alphabet, “collected” state license plates, and sang songs for mile after mile. My younger brother also slept on the ledge behind the back seat. There were no seatbelts at that time, we just rolled around the back seat when the car went around curves. (I was so thankful for car seats on our recent road trip! Four floating, rolling, bumping little boys is not a pretty picture.)
Our daughter planned well for the trip. I know that attributed to the contented attitudes of the boys AND the adults. Here are some thoughts on making road trips kid friendly:
- Have each child pack a tote with a few favorite toys and books. This helps your child feel secure and happy.
- Have snacks that are non-messy. This makes less mess and avoids sticky car seats, windows, hair, etc.
- Time trip to fit child’s schedule. We left after lunch so the boys would take their nap. It worked!
- Plan to stay with family/friends who have children/grandchildren with similar ages as your children. The first night we stayed with a lovely young couple who had two boys. They had toys and a kid friendly home – our boys felt at home right away. We had a delicious meal and then walked to a park where all five boys ran and played. We spent the next three nights with my brother and sister-in-law. They have a precious 6 month-old granddaughter so they also had toys and a port-a-crib. They took us to a farm/zoo for a picnic lunch which we all thoroughly enjoyed!
- Save a new book or toy for that time when your child is travel weary. You will know it is time to break out the new toy because you start to feel crabby yourself!
- Have favorite music to play and sing along. It may also be helpful to do hand motions. If you don’t know what the hand motions are – make some up. Even this limited movement makes riding in the car less tiresome.
- Stop for meals, gas, and stretch/bathroom breaks where your children can move about. We stopped for two meals at places with a playground. This was so good for the boys to climb, slide, and jump. Another place had picnic tables and a bit of room to walk around.
- Story tapes are entertaining and distracting for children 3 years and older.
- Coloring books and puzzle books are great as soon as your child won’t eat the crayons. We weren’t there yet.
- Talk about what you see out the window. We saw HUGE wind mills in Indiana, cows and horses on farms, several long trains, lots of farms, and the favorite of our crew – TUNNELS!
It is so easy as we get tired while traveling to snap at one another, become irritable, and fuss and whine. Yes, I mean we adults! Jesus faced a situation on one of His journeys where a huge crowd had followed Him and people were crowded around (somewhat like inside a van with 6 people?) and making demands. (I’m tired…. I’m hungry…I don’t want to share…)
Mark 10:13-14 (NLT)
13 One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could touch and bless them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.
14 When Jesus saw what was happening, He was angry with his disciples. He said to them, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.
This is such a lovely picture to me. I want to be like Jesus. I want to reflect our Father’s love to these children that are so precious in His sight. We all have blown it just as these disciples did and been impatient with our children and grandchildren. But we don’t have to remain that way. We can choose to embrace and accept them just as Jesus did.
Oh, by the way….. for those of you who read the post last week No Sense of Direction – our daughter navigated and we did not get lost once! (the two times I suggested an alternate route, she didn’t follow it – it’s a good thing – I was wrong)